'What is the Eden Alternative?' A Board Member's Point of View

July 21, 2011
Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.org

Jim Archer (Photo Courtesy of The Weekly Northside Sun)

Earlier this week we blogged about Community Place, a non-profit Eden Alternative nursing home in Jackson, Miss., breaking ground tomorrow in a major development to completely relocate their facility onto an innovative 22-acre campus of cottages, assisted and independent living complexes and skilled nursing inspired by the Eden Alternative care philosophy.

Jim Archer is a secretary/life member of the board of directors for Community Place and capital campaign chair spearheading the effort to raise $10 million for the new campus. He recently spoke with the Weekly Northside Sun newspaper and answered questions about The Eden Alternative:

What is the Eden Alternative?

“The Eden Alternative empowers our staff and elders to be part of the overall operation of Community Place. It’s an alternative that’s designed to de-institutionalize elder care, and address social needs like loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Those are often the things elders experience in institutional nursing homes. When we were drawing up plans for our new campus, we asked our elders what they would like. First, they said they wanted private rooms. They also said they wanted a fishing pond. We’re constructing one in the middle of the campus.”

Give me an example of how the Eden Alternative works.

“When we started thinking about the Eden Alternative, we began thinking of ways to get our elders involved in daily living, not being entertained but engaged. For example, our staffers used to take Mr. Sam (We can’t give you his last name.) out to feed the birds on a schedule. With the Eden Alternative, Mr. Sam goes to feed the birds only when he feels like feeding them. There is no set schedule, it’s daily living. Our only involvement is buying seeds. Mr. Sam tells us when we need to purchase more. It gives him a chance to give care, as well as receive care, which is our Eden Alternative antidote to helplessness.”

Read more:northsidesun – Jim Archer on Community Place

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